Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Giveaway Extravaganza!

I volunteer at the local library book sale (mostly sorting, but I also work the cash box a bit) and at a recent sale I picked up quite a few things for giveaways.  More recently, I hit 30,000 views, so I thought it seemed like a good time to do them!  I decided to divide them into batches of related books, rather than doing them all completely separately, apart from this first one. 

The Complete Family Sewing Book is an adorable piece of 1970s kitsch, but it's also a thorough guide to all the sewing techniques and terminology you could possibly want.  A couple of samples below:

Just comment to this post before Friday at midnight for a chance to win.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lace Identification Basics

I go through a lot of records each day at my internship, and see a lot of descriptions of textile objects (since I'm into clothes, doilies, etc. at the moment), and see a lot of Wrong Things that quickly develop into pet peeves.  Some examples: "kimono sleeves" (used to mean "cut in one with body", not accurate); "flapper dress"; the construction "X in color"; "under-" attached to any piece of clothing that is already worn under clothes (underslip, underdrawers, etc.).  Some of these I can understand, but one thing that makes me stop and stare is the massive lace confusion.  Knitted lace will be labeled crocheted, crocheted will be labeled bobbin, bobbin will be labeled knitted.  So I thought, hey, why not make a post on laces?  (Other than because I'm preaching to the choir.)

[NB: I'm missing a few pictures that I thought I took, so there are a few blank spaces.  I should have filled them in by Tuesday.]

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dutch Jacket

Many, many thanks to KittyCalash for posting her latest article, Dutch Treat.  Back in May, I was looking into the caraco as a result of seeing it defended as accurate for Revolutionary War contexts on the basis of a single extant example in the Snowshill Collection.  I came to the conclusion that whatever the item was, it wasn't called a caraco, and that it didn't seem likely to be widely worn in America or Britain.

KittyCalash found two runaway notices mentioning Dutch women running away in "Dutch jackets".  (I really need to get one or two of the runaway notice books, or figure out some way to access American newspapers online without paying for a really expensive subscription.)  I can find other references to Dutch jackets that imply a couple of different garments:

- Several modern sources describe the 17th century coat often seen in Vermeer's works as a "Dutch jacket".  This probably isn't relevant at all.

Woman Holding a Balance, Johannes Vermeer, ca. 1664; National Gallery of Art 1942.9.97

- In a runaway notice from 1750, the Dutch jacket is sleeveless and worn by a Dutch man under a jacket as a waistcoat.

It seems quite possible to me that the "caraco" was called a Dutch jacket in America, and tended to be worn only or mainly by Dutch immigrants.  Perhaps there were specific male and female versions?  I'm not going to insist on the term in any academic context, probably, but in general this seems like a much better turn to use instead of caraco.

ETA: As Sharon Burnston pointed out on Kitty's post, though, it must be remembered that "Dutch" also meant "German" at the time.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Polonaise Planning

When I went to Williamsburg, I knew that I wanted to buy some fabric at Mary Dickinson’s store.  Well, I didn’t know at first; I forgot until I saw the store and went, “OH, YES, OF COURSE I MUST.”  And I’ve wanted to make a polonaise* for a while, both because they’re cool and because I should put my money where my mouth is, or something, and make one if I’m going to make a post every time I come across a reference to them.

*a large part of me wants to spell it “polonese” because I’m getting more into using English terms, but another part of me is fairly sure that a) that would look weird to everyone and b) I’ve got enough problems insisting on a stricter definition of the polonaise, do I really need to compound it by being crazy about spelling as well?

I was probably influenced by the heat into choosing one called something something "blossoms" (I think?  It's a very large floral chintz-type print - I think it's the one you can see a bit of on Sarah in the pictures here on Two Nerdy History Girls) as it has a white ground.  It’s very beautiful, but the trouble is that fairly soon after ordering it I started wondering if it were even close to being suitable for a polonaise.  I know from past research that it was considered by some to be a style of dress that only the wealthy ought to wear; paintings of women in polonaises show them made in silk.

"The Music Party", Louis Rolland Trinquesse, 1774; Alte Pinakothek HuW 37

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Dilemma of Interpreters' Costuming

Hello to everyone from Williamsburg!  My father, stepmother-to-be, and stepsister-to-be are visiting for the first part of this week, before we go on to Washington.  Yesterday afternoon I went to Margaret Hunter's millinery shop and met Samantha of Couture Courtesan, who is as lovely and nice in person as she seems online, and I am a huge, crazy fangirl.

One of the first things I noticed when I got here was that the interpreters portraying a character, speaking lines in demonstrations or walking around decoratively - the actor-interpreters - tend to have fantastic clothes.  As I visited more and more sites, though, I noticed that the interpreters who are hired/volunteer to perform an informational or service function - the worker-interpreters - are pretty much always, if not always-always, dressed in bedgowns(/shortgowns, but I'm using bedgowns for convenience) and aprons, without stays, when they're women.  Not only was the difference noticeable to me, the inaccuracy bothered me a bit: gowns were far more prevalent than bedgowns in most public situations, and when women were exerting themselves in physical tasks, they were more likely to go without the outer covering than the stays (according to genre prints and paintings, anyway).